Vinyasa yoga is commonly known as “Flow” or “Vinyasa Flow” in the modern yoga world. In Sanskrit, the ancient language of yoga, the word vinyasa means to “place something in a special or sacred way.” In terms of our yoga practice, vinyasa yoga is the act of linking our movement with our breath, a.k.a, synchronizing our inhales and exhales with the flow of our yoga postures.
Let’s look at a classic sun salutation for example. A sun salutation, or surya namaskara, is a vinyasa. Many vinyasa flow classes will begin with some form of sun salutations, as it’s a great way to open the body and focus the mind.
Your teacher will say something along the lines of:
“Inhale, arms reach up over head, look at your thumbs.
Exhale, fold forward toward the ground.
Inhale, head up, lengthen the spine.
Exhale, jump back, chaturanga.”
…And so on.
As you can see, every movement the body makes is accompanied by either an inhale or an exhale. This allows the practitioner to gain more control over the body and mind over time, and the yoga practice becomes a moving meditation when done diligently. The vinyasa technique also sets our body up for optimal alignment of the poses, which prevents injury and safely provides us our greatest expression of the pose any given day.
WHAT TO EXPECT IN A VINYASA YOGA CLASS:
It’s a good idea to practice on an empty stomach. Traditionally, yoga is practiced on an empty stomach first thing in the morning as the sun is rising. If that’s not the best time for you to practice, just try not to eat anything for at least two hours before yoga.
- Strength and Endurance
Vinyasa yoga classes tend to be more physically demanding than other yoga classes. Because you’re “flowing” on your mat, this style of yoga can get your heart going and muscles burning. Of course it depends on the class level (usually stated in description, or discussed with your private teacher beforehand) and the teacher’s personal style, but expect to build internal heat, sweat on your mat, and maybe even feel sore the following day.
While vinyasa builds strength and endurance by encouraging you to work your body in new and challenging ways, it also brings you to the edge of your body in terms of flexibility. This leads to improved mobility, longer, leaner muscles, and healthier joints and ligaments. But be warned! Stretching is not always easy breezy, especially in a vinyasa class, where many poses work both strength and flexibility simultaneously.
- Deep Release
By the end of your vinyasa yoga class, every inch of your body will have been reset and released. You’ll have sweated away the baggage of the mind-body-spirit. The internal heat created through the combination of movement and breath has detoxified the organs and muscles. More often than not, the mind will experience a deeper sense of presence and gratitude following practice.
Be sure to hydrate after yoga class with mineral rich spring water, coconut water, fresh pressed vegetable juice, or something similar. Replenish your body with vitamins and minerals to really retain the benefits of your yoga practice!
Questions? Drop a comment and we’ll get back to you ASAP! Happy practicing. 🙂